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Chillicothe High Tennis Lady Hornets Rally to Repeat as District Champs

Outlast Trenton 5-4 for repeat district team crown Tuesday in Chillicothe. Rally in singles capped by Olivia Anderson’s 3-sets win at No. 6

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
The 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Lady Hornets repeated as district champions Tuesday (Oct. 6) when they rallied to nip the visiting Trenton Lady Bulldogs, 5-4. The triumph sends CHS’ team on to next Monday’s or Tuesday’s sectional-tournament portion of the Class 1 state tournament. The CHS players responsible for delivering the district-finals win are, from left, Olivia Anderson, Cami Carpenter, Delaney May, Megan Sisson, Leah Lourenco, and Rylee Washburn.
  • Chillicothe won 4 of 6 singles set after dropping 2 of 3 in doubles
  • In repeat of Sept. 24 match with Trenton, Anderson's close No. 6 singles win tips scales to CHS
  • Chillicothe advances to first round of Class 1 state team tournament, starting at Odessa Oct. 12 or 13
  • Lourenco victory at No. 4 singles critical factor in Chillicothe win
Freshman Rylee Washburn of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Lady Hornets makes the forehand shot that closed out her 6-4 win in the first set of Tuesday’s (Oct. 6) Class 1 District 15 team tournament finals No. 5 singles. Washburn then won game two 6-3 as CHS rallied during singles play to edge Trenton 5-4 and repeat as district team champs.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A Class 1 District 15 team tournament championship match which projected the potential to go down to the last swing of the racquet delivered just that at Chillicothe’s Daryl Danner Memorial Park courts Tuesday (Oct. 6, 2020).

Top-seeded Chillicothe, 7-2 and 5-4 regular-season dual-match winner over second seed Trenton, capped another 5-4 shading of the Lady Bulldogs when a Trenton shot fluttered into the net, giving CHS junior No. 6 singles player Olivia Anderson a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

That 7:20 p.m. moment came perhaps no more than a minute after Trenton’s Mallory Sole technically had tied the match 4-4 with a 3-sets win at No. 3 singles.

The Lady Hornets came out of Tuesday’s doubles play behind 2-1, the opposite of where the Lady Hornets (7-5) stood heading to singles in their narrow triumph at Trenton in late September.

However, a reversal of results at No. 4 singles by CHS junior Leah Lourenco – she out-dueled Alaina Overton 6-4, 6-3 Tuesday after having lost to her 4-8 at Trenton – put the state-qualifying match back on the same track as the most-recent prior battle.

With No. 2 Cami Carpenter and No. 5 Rylee Washburn already having repeated their singles victories against the Lady Bulldogs, the district final – as darkness enveloped the courts and the 6 o’clock hour moved into the 7 o’clock hour, Chillicothe found itself needing only one of the two in-progress singles matches – No. 3 or No. 6 – to complete its comeback successfully.

Although senior Sisson had outlasted Sole 6-4 in the second set of No. 3 play to send it to a third, the Trenton player had seized a solid lead in the last set and eventually would win it, 6-2.

However, simultaneously on a nearby court, Anderson had see-sawed through the first two sets of her No. 6 set with Lydia Leininger, taking the first 6-1, but dropping the second almost as resoundingly, 2-6.

The two had met during the Sept. 24 dual match at Trenton in, effectively, the same circumstances – the team match outcome resting on the outcome of their play.

On that occasion, playing in the pro-8, single-set scoring format, when Anderson edged in front 9-7, it won the set and team match.

This time, with Anderson again having won eight of the first 15 games – only spread across two pro-6-scoring sets, the pair engaged in a showdown third set.

The Lady Hornet with the fly-swatting, all-wrist backhand won several games in a row to build a 4-1 lead. After Leininger narrowed it to 4-2, Anderson won the decisive no-ad point at 40-40 in the seventh game, leaving her and her team one game away from advancement to early next week’s sectional tournament portion of the Class 1 state team competition.

While, perhaps about 100 feet away, Sole was closing out Sisson, the Chillicothe player earned a set and match point at 30-40. When her opponent’s shot several strokes into the ensuing rally didn’t carry over the net, Anderson again had delivered the clutch conquest, this time extending her and some of her teammates’ season to at least one more match.

Junior Olivia Anderson of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Lady Hornets runs in to make a mid-court forehand shot in the sunshine the first set of her No. 6 singles set against Lydia Leininger of Trenton during Tuesday’s (Oct. 6) Class 1 District 15 team tournament title match in Chillicothe. Anderson won the first set, lost the second, and then rediscovered her game and – long after sundown – claimed the final set 6-2 to give CHS the team crown and advancement to state-tourney play.

That next action likely will occur at Odessa next Monday. Undefeated Odessa is the top seed and host of the District 13 tourney, the champion of which will serve as the host site for the 4-teams, 2-rounds sectional event that will determine one of the four Class 1 team semifinalists that will move on to the state tourney at Springfield later in October.

While Anderson once more provided the clincher in a narrow win over Trenton, Lourenco’s reversal of her fortunes against Overton provided the leverage for the CHS comeback.

Having split the duo’s regular-season singles meetings – winning on a tiebreaker at home before being doubled up at Trenton more recently, getting the close opening set 6-4 bolstered the Lady Hornets junior’s hopes and confidence.

She then won the first game of the second set before dropping two in a row. Then came a marathon point that seemed to pivot the set and match.

Back and forth Lourenco and Overton swatted the ball over the net, sometimes seeking a winner, other times chasing down a tough shot to return it, and sometimes just making sure they kept the ball in play.

Eventually the point saw more than 30 strokes taken by the two players combined before a Lourenco shot went wide, giving her foe the lead in the game.

However, whether having worn Overton down a bit with the long, long battle or discovered a new reservoir of confidence in herself, Lourenco responded by winning the next three points to take the game and knot the second set at 2-2.

Games three and four went the Lady Hornet’s way, as well, as she rode a surge of momentum into a position of control of the set – and, by extension, the match.

After the players split the next two games, Lourenco – already assured of continuing her personal season this Saturday when she and Carpenter will compete in the non-team state-qualifying sectional doubles match at St. Joseph – got the 6-4, 6-3 victory that balanced off the match’s variance in doubles results.

At No. 2 singles, sophomore Carpenter – Lourenco’s doubles partner for the non-team sectional – raced to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Morgan Dolan. A while later, at No. 5 spot, freshman Washburn, after nearly blowing a 4-1 lead in the first set to hold on 6-4, repeated her late-September triumph over Emilee Lovell by prevailing 6-3 in the second set.

District 15 individual singles champion Lexi Gott handily topped CHS’ top player, Delaney May 6-2, 6-0, repeating the result of their non-team district-tourney singles title match in Chillicothe last Friday.

Tuesday’s match, played in extremely-comfortable weather with no impact from the often-notorious Danner Park wind, opened with CHS seniors May and Sisson succumbing to Gott and Dolan 0-8 in No. 1 doubles.

Not long after, Washburn and Anderson polished off Lovell and Leininger 8-3 at No. 3, leaving the lead going to singles play to be decided between the schools’ No. 2 tandems.

Sectional-bound Carpenter and Lourenco had topped Sole and Overton 8-4 in the late-September meeting, but this time things were tighter.

Finally, with an 8-7 lead, the Trenton combo grabbed the next game and the set, giving their team what it hoped would be the results alteration from that previous match at Trenton that would result in the Lady Bulldogs capturing the district crown, but it was not to be.